An annual report on anti-Semitism worldwide during 2013 was released just ahead of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust remembrance day. The report, compiled by Professor Dina Porat of the Moshe Kantor database for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University – in cooperation with the European Jewish Congress, describes a severe escalation in the worldwide anti-Jewish atmosphere in 2013.
According to the report, anti-Semitism continues to infiltrate the mainstream from the extreme left and right fringes, and its manifestations have become an almost daily phenomenon.
The major conclusion of the research conducted by the Kantor Center team, and supported by both community reports and independent surveys by non-Jewish sources, is that the anxiety felt by Jews around the world is a result of the growing intensity and the increase in insults, abusive language, threats and harassment, but not necessarily an increase in the number of physically violent incidents.
Surveys show that most Jews who experience an anti-Semitic verbal or physical attack d0 not report them; therefore the actual situation is believed to be worse than what is usually reported in the news media.
During 2013, the Kantor Center team registered and analyzed 554 violent anti-Semitic acts perpetrated with weapons or without, including arson, vandalism, or direct threats against Jewish persons or institutions such as synagogues, community centers, schools, cemeteries, and monuments, as well as private property. Physically violent incidents decreased in 2013 by 19%, yet the number of direct attacks against persons is steadily increasing.
Among all registered cases in the report, there were 25 attacks with weapons, 98 cases of weaponless violence, 9 cases of arson, 89 direct threats, and 333 incidents of vandalism. The total number of targets of the incidents were 185 persons, 67 synagogues, 52 community centers and schools, 90 cemeteries and memorial sites, and 160 private properties. The highest number of events occurred in France: 116, (compared to 200 in 2012).
A decline in violent cases was registered in Italy, Poland, the U.S., and Australia, and a rise was recorded in the UK, Canada, Germany, and the Ukraine. The number of violent incidents during the last decade (2004-2013) was higher than in the former one.
Disconcerting findings were also reported by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), a research branch of the European Union (EU), on perceptions among European Jews regarding anti-Semitism. The survey was conducted among six thousand Jews in eight countries, where approximately one million Jews, who constitute 90% of the Jewish population of the European Union, reside.
The findings point at an intensified feeling that personal safety and communal wellbeing of Jews is in jeopardy, especially in Hungary, France, and Belgium, followed by Sweden, Italy, Germany, UK, and Latvia, where the situation is less severe. Approximately 80% of the participants in Hungary considered extreme right circles as the main source of threats; more than 60% in Italy pointed to the left; 73% in France and 60% in Belgium blamed radical Muslims. Anti-Semitism originating in the church, and in Christianity in general, was last on the list.
The report offers two conclusions.
First: There is a growing discrepancy between official policies in most Western countries, and the popular opinion in such countries that surfaced, for instance, during the kosher slaughtering and circumcision debates, and intensified when Jewish property looted by the Nazis reappeared in the news. A significant number of politicians, leaders, and officials who expressed anti-Semitic opinions, slurs, and the like in public (at least 15 during 2013), were forced to resign, or did so on their own accord.
The second conclusion is that anti-Zionism, which is rampant in the West, the rise of right-wing extremist parties (each having its own wider agenda), and the economic crisis cannot be blamed for the rise in anti-Semitic incidents. The report’s conclusion is that the present anti-Semitic phenomenon is not dependent on external events. “In short, what we witness in 2013 is classic ‘net anti-Semitism’ per se,” according to the report.